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Richard Ouzounian: I would expect that Luminato will become, not only a world class event,
but a world first-class event.
Jorn Weisbrodt: I hope so too.
RO: And I used to be in the broadcasting field, and what... That leads to my question which
is, are there any plans, and you don't have to reveal any trade secrets or anything, [chuckle]
to take this to the rest of the world digitally and live? I know that there's a lot of planning
now going on just about performance and the line up, and all that sort of business, but
thinking further ahead to...
JW: I mean...
RO: Promote it as a world first-class event.
JW: We are undergoing a strategic planning process right now which is a very enjoyable
process, and we're definitely... I mean, these are things that we are definitely thinking
about, how feasible it is to do, something like that, etcetera, etcetera. And it is a
very interesting idea. I mean one of the ideas, maybe more of the reverse idea that you're
describing that I had for the festival, and don't nail me down if we're not doing it this
year, because things take time to develop, but one thing that I would actually love to
do is to almost create within the festival a festival of festivals and where you could
sort of partner with different great festivals around the world. And you would film their
productions in 3D, and bring that to Toronto, rather than inviting the whole crew, you just
bring the film and 3D and theatre or performance, a live performance is actually so powerful,
JW: When I was working with Wilson, I convinced NHK to film a production of his. And they
could sort of use it as they could make a five-minute clip for their sort of shows where
they were going around to advertise their technology. And it really is all of sudden
sort of theatre on screen, and performance on screen totally make sense. So, rather than...
That could be, for me a really progressive and new way of thinking about this presenting
model because you could basically bring the world to... And the best of the world to Toronto
without... In a very different and very contemporary kind of way without hopefully spending the
money that you would need on airfare. And thinking about the environment too, I guess,
you know because there are implications to shipping sets overseas and having all that
exchange and artists travelling etcetera, etcetera.
RO: As the British would say, jolly good.
RO: Questions? Yes. Maybe the CBC can help us with that.
S?: Hi. Oh, I'm sorry. This was one of my question over there. But also, I think it's
a great idea about the festival sort of worldwide and I have two questions for you. Sorry, I
have three questions. [laughter] My first one is, what are your changes? Because you're
a new director... Artistic Director of Luminato, so what are your changes like before and now?
What's going to be new with you? What are you going... I mean you're the person who
is going to bring something new, but what are your great changes for this festival this
JW: Well for this... I mean this festival, a really large part of the program has been
planned already, and I'm not going in and say like, "No, we gotta... You know, this
is ***, and this is terrible," because we actually have a really great program, and
a lot of the really signature pieces that have been planned, and I'm not saying something
that hasn't been announced yet is the... Robert Lepage is doing a new piece called Playing
Cards. It's sort of the first part of a four part monumental production, and that has its
North American premier at the Luminato Festival, one of Canada's really great and greatest
masters in his field.
JW: We've co-commissioned or... I'm saying "we" because see I already feel so connected
to that or my predecessor, before I came they've co-commissioned the Batsheva Dance Company,
an amazing contemporary dance company in Tel Aviv, for a new evening-length contemporary
ballet or dance piece that's coming here. And so there's... So a lot of the bigger sort
of blocks of the festival have already been planned. I've sort of coloured the mortar
a little bit and tried to glue these together. One of the maybe main or one of the most noticeable
changes is going to be that we've... The Luminato Festival has always had this idea of the hub,
which is sort of like, really, the heart, the pulsing part of the festival. And we've
tried, or I've tried to really condense more and more programming into the hub, that goes
and that then sort of also maybe points to other parts of the programming in different
venues around time.
JW: And also try to mix up or bring different aspects of the programming from different
disciplines of the programming closer even in geographical proximity. For example, doing
you know... So you might sort of come out of a film at TIFF, and immediately sort of
stumble upon a magic show that is happening at TIFF, so that it's not... So that the different
aspects of the programming are sort of more in close contact and that you have these sort
of more accidental encounters with different art forms, and might just be enticed to stay
and to sort of look.
JW: And this idea of transformation of the hub is something that we've taken up and we
are working with one of the greatest architectural company, firms of our times to really re-envision
this idea of this forum or this Agora, or piazza, you know where people come together,
where they experience art, and hopefully create... You know transform also the way they look
at the square and will ever since. And I can't say yet who it is or what it looks like but
I think it's actually going to be quite special. So that was one of the bigger imprints that
I could still leave with the festival for this year.
S?: Thank you.
S?: And how do you find all your worldwide artists, like is it... Are you working with
your team, or you like... It's huge.
JW: Well, yes I have a team of programmers and we're actually... I'm very grateful that
the festival immediately said we're going to hire another person. So we're gonna sort
of beef up the programming of the curatorial department. So we're actually going to announce
for that position very very soon. And you will have your network of people that you
constantly talk to and everything is getting so easy with email, and the Internet, and
it's almost getting too easy, I have my wonderful and lovely assistant has put a box together
for me, of stuff to take home, and it's about 50 different proposals [chuckle] that I have
to look at over the weekend, at some point so...
RO: Good. Another question? We have time for perhaps one or two more.
JW: I've always been... I've always really enjoyed working with the visual arts and contemporary
art. And have... I've worked in the opera and opera has sort of been my passion but
I've always almost shied away from having too many friends within the opera world, so
I almost had much more friends within the visual arts, and journalists and critics,
because I always felt that, if you're too much living in your sort of department in
your institution, you sort of lose the bigger picture. And one of the things that I did
in Berlin at the Opera House was that I brought a lot of visual artist into the opera, and
actually made them understand, and love the richness of this institution where they might
not have actually been ever before.
JW: I also... We had... It was... The Opera House where I worked was the first freestanding,
so not connected to the court's opera house in the world. It was built by Fredrick the
Great. And it is a beautiful ornate ballroom and when I saw it I said, "We should do clubs
here, and we should do bring some of the best electronic or pop musicians or whatever to
give music just like we do great classical chamber music in that space." And then everyone
was against it except for my artistic director because he liked those kind of ideas, and
then we sort of slowly convinced people. And you weren't allowed to smoke in the Opera
House because basically if something would catch fire, our iron curtain actually didn't
close properly and so the whole house, the whole building would burn down.
JW: And I said well we can't do a club without people smoking. This was still in the days
where basically beer and cigarettes go together in Germany and I guess they still do. But
there's a lot of non-smoking restaurants and clubs now as well. So we went to the building
department and we said, "We really want to do this but we have to smoke, and it would
only be like once or twice a month, and blah, blah, blah and whatever," and I convinced
them to let us do that. So that's where I brought in also lot of different artists into
RO: Okay. I saw there was another hand back there. Yep.
S?: I'd be interested in your views of the role of the theatre critic in society. I mean
to what extent are you affected by or influenced by the theatre critics?
JW: Oh, I think anyone...
S?: It's huge.
JW: Anyone who works in that business and who reads reviews and, I do, and says they're
not affected by it is a liar. Of course one is. I think though that the relationship of
the public to the critic and especially also through the Internet has changed quite a bit
I think because there's a lot more sources to get your information about a particular
piece. There's people who write blogs, there's a lot more online sort of... You can get your
opinion out into the world in these days much much much more than you used to. And I think
you pick some people whose opinion you really really really treasure and I think very often...
I've always liked also sometimes to have dinner or lunch, like Richard and I are going to
have dinner tonight, to sort of talk with the critic because they do see a lot and they
are... They can be sort of a machine that detects what's going on in the city and to
just get their point of view on, their outsider point of view on what is happening with the
cultural institution. I think you have to take them with a lot of... With a grain of
salt, with a lot of humour, no?
RO: Agree totally.
JW: I think most of them would agree.
RO: Oh, totally.
JW: The good ones would agree for sure.
RO: It's ultimately one person's opinion. How powerful that opinion is, is another issue,
but it is just one person's opinion.
JW: It is an interesting... I mean, it really is an interesting concept though. I mean,
do you feel, Richard, that with the Internet that there is sort the influence and the responsibility...
Or the influence of the critic is changing?
RO: Well, I have to be honest, I'm not saying it to be protecting my job but it really doesn't
matter that much all the new stuff that's happening. There are on any given day 35 bloggers...
JW: Or people who call themselves critics who write things about the theatre. A couple
of them are very well informed and write very well. None of them if you put all of their
aggregate figures together form 10% of my readership every day.
JW: Yeah. Yeah.
RO: Still. And it's a place where people can express their opinion and that's a good thing
and people who can read it can say that's a good thing as well. But it generally tends
to be, this is the problem, preaching to the converted. You have to go look for these blogs
and look for these reviews whereas if you are leafing through your Toronto Star or your
Globe and Mail...
JW: Sure. Sure.
RO: They hit you in the face.
RO: And you read them. And we'd like to think that we can bring the people who don't normally
go to the theatre, to the theatre and that's the difference I think. But it's still, no
one is casually gonna skim through the XYZ theatre blog. There's just too much on the
net. You know that, you rem...
JW: I thought what was interesting, I heard a talk of the chief editor of the New York
Times, Sulzberger, or the publisher or whatever, and he said that he believes that in 2017
or whatever, there's not gonna be a print edition of the New York Times anymore. So,
they're sort of getting ready to really shift everything online, which is kind of...
RO: Well the thing is that doesn't mean not writing... I mean, I am maniacal to make sure
everything I write gets online.
RO: And in fact, in the new era, I'm now under deadlines where I often have less than a half-hour
to write 'cause they want it online...
JW: They want it online immediately.
RO: I mean, you can, literally you can be reading a re... One night a couple of weeks
ago I saw a show, went to McDonalds to write the review with the wireless, got on the street
car to go home...
JW: So it was a fast food review.
RO: Yeah, fast food review. I was on the street car going home when I got an email from the
producer of the show thanking me for the review. [chuckle] It was online before I was even
JW: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
RO: So, I believe the Internet as a presence and an extension of newspapers is extraordinarily
valuable but you build up the readership and the reputation and everything from the fact
that you did come from the print mother as it were.
S?: May I have one question [inaudible].
JW: Which one?
JW: You have to check it on the Internet.
S?: Yeah and so it doesn't [inaudible].
RO: No idea. And as I said our paper and our management are very maniacal about...
JW: Making sure we're online first, more thorough. We can often run longer versions of articles
online because no paper to spend money on.
RO: Or no editing rules or things like that. Or sometimes, as happens in Toronto, six productions
of various theatres and operas and things can open in one night. There's no room for
all of them in the paper or not enough people to cover them all in one night. We often can
put in the newspaper, "Please go online to see this here."
JW: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
RO: Because it happens that way.
RO: Sometimes if there's just too much... The Times does that too now.
JW: Yeah. Yeah.
RO: One more thing. Yeah, we have one more.
S?: I'm not sure if this is a question [inaudible]. How would you define success or what will
success look like for you?
JW: If I'm still sitting here on this chair again in five years, and you're gonna come
JW: I think, it is also such a mixture of different components. I mean, it does have
something to do with audience and what the numbers are for sure. I think... I mean, one
of my... You know, I think... I personally really... It pains me if a piece that I'm
producing or putting on is not selling out, you know? I hate empty seats in theatre. I
really hate it, so I try to find ways of communi... And I'm very passionate about things that
I'm sort of working on or whatever. So, I'm really trying to think about any kind of way,
how... Where is the audience? How can we get to the right kind of audience?
JW: And the whole team of Luminato is actually so wonderful, and they're always thinking
as well and what are the different directions that we are coming. The great thing about
this festival too, is that it's so young. And there's you don't come in there and they
say, "Well this is how we've done like 30 years ago, so we can't really change it anymore."
Which is actually a little bit of what I had at the Opera House in Berlin and it wasn't
like, "This is how we did it 30 years ago," but "This is how we did it 350 years ago."
JW: So, that is definitely an effect I think sort of how the festival invigorates the local
art scene. I think, also, what great artists it attracts, from internationally. How do
they collaborate with artists from Canada, from Toronto? What percentage of the productions
from Luminato sort of continue going on into travel around the world, travel around Canada,
or whatever. To me, the definition of the great culture of a nation is not only necessarily
what are the great artists that a country produces, but also what are the great artists
that a country attracts to live and work where you are. And I think it has to be this balance.
And I think... Hopefully you're going to tell me if I was successful or not.
RO: And the last thing, the last unpaid commercial. When the time comes to buy tickets, please
go to see Einstein on the Beach. I cannot guarantee you will love every second of it,
but I will guarantee that you'll hate yourself if you don't go. It's an important piece of
theatre, opera, whatever you want to call it. And, I think... You're never gonna see
its like again.
RO: So, best to go see it now while it's here. I think that's it. Thank you all. Jorn, thank
you for being so cooperative and open.
JW: Thank you.